Orangevale man captures near-miss lightning strike on video

SACRAMENTO - A man shooting video of a sudden hailstorm at a mountain lake ended up capturing a lightning strike just a few steps from where he was standing.

Bruce Hyland, 63, an Aerojet engineer, was camping with friends at Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park June 10 when he pulled out a point-and-shoot camera to record the late-season hailstorm while the rest of the group huddled under a tarp.

"All of a sudden we hear this enormous crash," Hyland explained. "We didn't see a flash of lighting, we didn't know how near it was."

Hyland said no one realized the lightning had struck two trees next to their campsite until they reviewed the video he had just shot.

"You can clearly see one frame is completely saturated with light from the strike, and yet we didn't see that at all."

In the following frame, 1/30th of a second later, the flash is gone but an orange glow can be seen in the trees and reflected in water splashed up from the lake by hailstones.

At the same time, the ground appears to erupt as the enormous energy from the lightning strike finds a path through the tree roots.

Ten frames later, one-third of a second, Hyland reacts to the thunderclap by jerking the camera.

Hyland said he and his friends later reflected on how close they came to disaster, with medical help several hours away.

"If we had been standing or camping on any one of those paths, I suspect the outcome would have been way different than it was," he said.


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